Sunday, August 1, 2010

Race Report: Barb's Race 1/2 Ironman

Race Report
Barb’s Race Half Ironman: 1.2 mile swim, 56 mile bike, 13.1 mile run
Saturday, July 31, 2010
Santa Rosa, CA

Well, I’m thrilled to say that I don’t think there is a single part of my body that does not hurt thismorning. My goals were simple. Goals One and Two for any race are always the same, no matter the race. ONE: Finish. TWO: Finish without pooping on myself. Simple. Goal three for me Saturday was to end this race with nothing left besides the energy and mental capacity to get myself home. (The only error in this plan, as my family was to witness, was that I didn’t really work in the animal chores into that equation and they darn near put me into a coma when I got home.) I didn’t want to leave this race wondering if I could have gone harder and survived. My ultimate goal, as has been the case every year I’ve done Barb’s or Vineman, is to beat my elusive PR—5 hours and 58 minutes at Vineman about 10 years ago (I clearly remember urinating on myself to accomplish this); I’ve been trying to go under six hours ever since to no avail. The closest I came was 2 years ago when I flatted, and not counting the time to repair it, my unofficial time was 6.12. My method was simple. To take every second as it’s own entity, bringing myself and my focus back, time and again, and asking what I could be doing better: can I turn my arms over any faster during this swim? Can I keep my elbows up? Can I up my cadence, can I push a bigger gear? Can I run more relaxed? Can I push my run a little tiny bit harder? Breaking it up into these itty bitty moments to keep my focus.
Barb’s Race is great for the whole all-girl thing and the camaraderie; the competitive element is not nearly as palpable and sometimes this distracts me. It is an interesting day as there are people (male and female) competing in the Aquabike swim/bike race as well as the full Vineman (you couldn’t pay me…). The hardest part of this race is so often the hot weather. This year was by far the coolest I’ve ever seen this course. The swim was foggy, not clearing until partway through the bike, and the run, I’m guessing, was about 80-85 degrees at the end, far cry from the 110 degree year. The scencery is always so amazing.
I do like that swim, so different from the usual lake or ocean swims, up and back in the Russian River out of Geurneville. I love the cozy feeling of being surrounded by the tree-lined shores, and the current on the way back is my new best friend. I love the warm water as well as the fact you can often see the bottom! The official results aren’t up yet, but my watch said somewhere around 45 minutes. You can almost set your watch by my swim, sadly, despite any amount of swim training I do.
Onto the bike! After the initially alarming mental question of “why does this seem so HARD??”, I quickly assessed that I was unable to get out of my big ring and began a short session of rolling-problem-solving, not wanting to dismount to fix the problem until I was pretty sure what it was. Hmmmm….something in the routing….pulled over, jumped off, sure enough, the housing had come out of the braze on getting the bike in and out of the car…yanked it up, popped it on, got myself back on and safely back onto the road. Maybe cost me a minute and a half, tops, with another minute and a half to get my rolling rhythm back….bummer. But after that, no one passed me and got away with it! Hello! I’m BACK! Not even the Relay guy in the Stanford jersey that I played leapfrog with for miles. History. I pushed that bike ride from start to finish; I think the problem of so many people slowing down at the end of a bike leg isn’t always an endurance problem as much as a focus problem. So, my refocusing plan worked really really well. My accumulated stopwatch time off the bike was about 3 hours 50 minutes. I knew it was possible to hit the big goal, but it was going to be close. As much as I did not want to, I had to visit the porta potty (see goal two) which probably cost me a minute.
Out onto the run! And AGAIN, the curious phenomenon I experienced at Wildflower happened. I started running, and like I was possessed by the spirit of Forrest Gump, I just kept running! Where are these runs COMING from?!?!? Before I broke my leg, I never ran a whole run, even in shorter races. Now, I start running, and after the year of training to walk a marathon last year, my brain is completely turned off to the idea of EVER walking again, if I can run. Bizarre! I don’t even walk the aid stations. And the oddest part is that it is pretty soon into the run that I realize I just don’t envision walking at any point in this run. God, I hope this lasts.
So, I truly left it all out there yesterday. Unofficial time on my watch…Including mechanical and potty issues….6 hours 5 minutes. I WILL TAKE IT, thank you very much!! I really really needed a touchstone race to know where I was in terms of training for Florida. It’s all systems go starting tomorrow morning. Today I plan to do absolutely nothing I don’t want to do, to take a nap, and eat an entire watermelon by myself.

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